GRIS – Nintendo Switch Review

GRIS is the first game from the relatively new Nomada Studio. To describe it as a puzzle platformer is to do it a disservice, GRIS is an experience. Mixing a stunning watercolour dreamscape with hauntingly beautiful and immersive audio, GRIS must be played to be truly appreciated.

Having seen GRIS being presented from afar at PAX Australia, I was looking forward to what looked like a solid puzzle platformer. What I saw was nothing, compared to actually getting my hands on the game! From the first few moments of play you can tell that GRIS is really something special. One of the hardest parts about describing a game like GRIS is to not spoil the experience for others. It is a game of self-exploration in struggling with loss in a very unique way. Not as heavy handed in its themes like some games, it addresses such issues with a very elegant and poignant approach. After finishing the game I can safely say that GRIS has shot to the top of my list of games that demonstrate gaming as an art form.

GRIS conveys emotion quite strongly through artwork and use of colour. The game starts with you progressing through a white wasteland that evokes a real sense of melancholy and separation. The colours are slowly restored to the world one by one, revealing more depth and emotion with every step. Each area in GRIS has its own unique feel, as colours range from bleeding water colours to stark contrasts representing various emotions. While looking stunning in both handheld and docked modes, I do highly recommend going in with a good set of headphones. I found it is best to fully immerse yourself in the world that is GRIS. Although the game looks beautiful overall, it is the little details that really set it apart. These details help to flesh out the world, adding to the atmosphere and often leading to clues about progression or hidden secrets. Never before had I been so thankful for the screenshot button on the switch than while playing GRIS.

While the game certainly looks amazing the gameplay also feels top notch. Your character wears a dress that, as you progress and restore more colours to the world, allows you to use various skills. You combine these skills and develop techniques to overcome the hurdles presented to you as you make your way through the world. Controls are tight and snappy but forgiving enough to not get frustrating. This keeps the game flowing nicely and allows you to not only appreciate the visuals but also the wonderful level design. Gameplay and story blend seamlessly together feeling very organic, making every bit of progression more rewarding than the last. Optional challenges are present for those looking to prove their skill but are in no way necessary to enjoying or finishing the game. These can range from collectables to little tasks that leave you with a nice sense of satisfaction.

Story, visuals and mechanics all intertwine together making this a game you will not want to put down. GRIS is a game full of heart and powerful emotion, a wondrous journey in growth and healing. Delve into the world that is GRIS today!

Game: GRIS
Developer: Nomada Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Available: Nintendo Switch eShop
Price: AU$23.95

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: GRIS [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by POWERUP PR for this review.

 

Storm Boy: The Game – Nintendo Switch Review

Storm Boy: The Game, is a charming and touching adaptation of the classic Colin Thiele story. Being developed for the 55th edition of the book and prior to the upcoming movie’s release, it envelopes the childhood joy and wonder of simple activities set against the backdrop of the pristine south Australian coastline.

Storm Boy is a story that many growing up in the 80s and 90s will remember. This beautiful story of Australiana certainly deserves more attention than it normally receives. I know that personally after playing Storm Boy: The Game, I have felt the need to look for the original source material. The game manages to capture that sense of halcyon days, swimming and running along the sand while also showing the nature of people both cruel and kind. The friendship of Storm Boy and Mr.Percival is set up wonderfully and you can really see a connection between them.

The game has a very beautiful and simplistic story book feel to it, a hand painted quality that I really enjoyed. Moving Storm Boy across the screen is very fluid and almost feels like turning pages, allowing the story to progress. Combining visuals and soundscape, the game becomes an atmospheric experience that I found very relaxing. The simplicity of the gameplay in both main story sections and mini games means anyone can appreciate the narrative being told. I did encounter one or two minor bugs during my time but nothing that detracted from the enjoyment of the game.

image source: Storm Boy: The Game

Storm Boy: The Game, is picturesque and charming.  The Story may feel a bit shortened down but certainly packs a punch and doesn’t disappoint. Don’t feel bad if you shed a tear here and there on your journey. If you are after a touching tale of friendship don’t go past this little gem.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Storm Boy: The Game [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by Stride PR for this review.

 

Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: A Nostalgic Triple Treat

The arcade manufacturing business as we knew it in the 80s and 90s might be a wasteland strewn with heavy hitters like Data East, but we are lucky that they aren’t totally forgotten.

Leading the revival of past classic arcade games is publisher FTEGames under their Johnny Turbo’s Arcade banner. We miss Data East quite a lot, their arcade and pinball output was nothing short of awesome and prolific, with their games proving popular with punters and always drawing a crowd.

For all of us with new consoles that are yearning for some Data East arcade gaming nostalgia, Johnny Turbo’s Arcade has delivered in spades! Starting with the classic side-scrolling beat’em up, Bad Dudes vs DragonNinja, the tough as nails platformer, Caveman Ninja (aka: Joe & Mac) and the run and gun Sly Spy, we were in for quite a trip down memory lane on our Nintendo Switch.

Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Bad Dudes Vs DragonNinja (Nintendo Switch eShop)

Are you a bad enough dude? Of course you are! Smash some Ninjas to save President Ronnie and then have burgers and coke as your reward in this brilliant conversion of Bad Dudes vs DragonNinja. This 80s horizontal scrolling beat’em up will satisfy your fighting nostalgic nerve in abundance. Now go and save the Prez!

Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Caveman Ninja (Nintendo Switch eShop)

Forget Mario and definitely forget Sonic, as they weren’t around in prehistoric days. Grab your club and get ready to go on a wild, prehistoric adventure with the Cavemen Ninjas – Joe & Mac! Help Joe and Mac fight against enemy cavemen and dinosaurs using prehistoric weapons. Battle your way through numerous prehistoric levels using weapons such as boomerangs, bones, fire, flints, electricity, stone wheels, and clubs. There is no Princess in a castle to be rescued, only kidnapped “Cave Babes”. This is one tough platformer, so co-op play is recommended!

Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Sly Spy (Nintendo Switch eShop)

We have always wanted to be like James Bond – the awesome contraptions, gadgets, weapons and exotic locations had us hooked. Sly Spy satisfies our secret agent appetite, with contraptions like jet-packs to get around and golden gun weaponry to dispatch baddies to become a hero by saving the world from Evil. The premise of this game is pretty straight forward, you must protect the U.S. from a nuclear missile attack from the terrorist organisation CWD (Council for World Domination). This classic is arcade perfect on the Switch! Just like the other arcade games, it is tough as heck, so the challenge will keep you coming back.

Developer Flying Tiger Entertainment should be commended for their arcade perfect ports of these games on the Switch. There are plenty of tweaks for each title which will keep both retro gamers and contemporary players happy. Oh yeah, the level of detail is nothing short of awesome, our favourite being the curvature of the screen, just like on the old arcade monitors – a great nostalgic touch!

These classic Data East games are lovingly converted by the Flying Tiger Entertaining / Johnny Turbo’s Arcade team and are the perfect trifecta of nostalgic hits for your Nintendo Switch. Being perfect arcade conversions, these are just as difficult as their arcade counterparts, but trust us, that is a good thing – BUY THEM NOW!

 

Sonic Mania Plus – Nintendo Switch Review

Imagine it’s 1992 and someone said to you, “Sonic The Hedgehog will end up on a Nintendo console and it will kick ass”. Your immediate reaction would have been a hefty scoff followed up with telling the peep espousing such absurdity to seek medical advice!

Well, it’s 2018 and Sega’s blue mascot has appeared on many a Nintendo systems, some hits and some misses. Thankfully, Sonic Mania Plus has hit the bulls-eye on the the Nintendo Switch. Seriously, this game is something else – it feels, dare we say, at home on the Switch.

In a nutshell, Sonic Mania Plus is a greatest hits collection and a love-letter to the original Sonic games with a healthy dose of remixed action coupled with new experiences to hook you right in. The game, for the most part, has you playing levels from the originals that have been revamped with additional routes and fun new bosses and twists. Make no bones about it, this package goes right for the player’s sense of 16-bit platforming nostalgia, which there is plenty.

The visuals are nothing short of gorgeous running at a solid 60 fps (docked at 1080p or 720p in handheld mode). Coupled with the visuals is the awesomely cool and funky soundtrack by Tee Lopes. Of course a good looking and funky sounding game doesn’t get too far if its controls aren’t up to standard. Luckily the development team rounded out the package with tight and responsive controls, with the weighting of jumps and game tempo being nigh on perfect. To be honest, we are running out of superlatives to use for this game. The whole package comes together so well that you get an immediate sense of satisfaction as soon as you press play – it is that damn good!

So what’s with the Plus you ask? Well, a few things. For starters, this release introduces two new playable characters, Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. Both characters have their own unique talents which make them play differently from the rest of the characters. Plus also provides not two, but four-player simultaneous racing action through the campaign levels, splitting the TV into quadrants, a la Mari Kart 64 style.

Oh yeah, the physical Sonic Mania Plus edition also comes with a 32-page art book. The emphasis on this companion piece is on the production artwork – very cool indeed. Another pretty cool surprise is the reversible cover that looks like a late-era Mega Drive game. We had to reverse our cover immediately to give us that 16-bit feels.

If you have been holding onto your Sega Mega Drive to just play Sonic The Hedgehog games, the good news is you can now either pack it away or get rid of it! Sonic’s new home is on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s brilliant.

We don’t usually provide scores for our reviews, but if we did, this would be a solid gold 9.99/10! Sonic Mania Plus on the Nintendo Switch should be an insta-buy!

Buy Sonic Mania Plus here.

Disclosure: Sonic Mania Plus [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by Five Star Games for this review.

 

Review: Hand of Fate 2 – Nintendo Switch

Hand of Fate 2 is yet another demonstration of how good the Nintendo Switch can be, it is the perfect game to sink your teeth into at home with the console docked to your TV, then pick it up and continue the adventure when you need to be on the move.

Having never played or even heard of the first game, Hand of Fate 2 for the Nintendo Switch has been a pleasant surprise for me. The best way I can describe the game is that it is a hybrid action RPG card building choose your own adventure game (yes, seriously). The basic premise involves pitting the player against a mysterious card dealer across 22 missions, with each mission containing various encounter cards which the dealer reveals as the player traverses across them. Each mission is essentially a mini text story driven adventure with various end and bonus objectives to complete. One involved rescuing residents of a town ravaged by zombie-like plague monsters, while another tasks the player to recover four artefacts, with each inflicting a ‘curse’ condition on the player so it becomes more difficult as more artefacts are recovered.

As the player advances through the story missions, you are rewarded various cards (depending on how well you do), including encounters, equipment, resources and companions with which the player then can effectively build a custom deck to use for each mission. The game has the option of auto building decks but I found customising card decks to be much more fun and makes each mission unique and interesting; bring the card that rewards the armour that grants additional food resources for every other resource card received or just bring more encounters that dish out gold and health as rewards and a high damage sword reward card instead, the choice is yours.

However, even with careful planning, many encounters can still rely on chance. There are several mini games within encounters that help determine their results, such as throwing dice to match or exceed a target number, timing a laser pendulum to stop on a tiny moving box or spinning a wheel of cards that grant or take away valuable resources. I feel this mechanism adds to the excitement of the game and introduces a much-needed unpredictability given the player is usually well aware of what’s coming should they have constructed the decks to their liking for a particular mission. The tension of trying to execute an impeccably timed button press to escape starvation (effectively avoids restarting the entire mission) and the resulting joy of actually pulling it off is what makes this system so great.

When combat is the only way to influence encounter outcomes, the game whisks you away from the card table and into a ring-fenced battle arena for some real time combat utilising a system not too dissimilar from the Batman Arkham games, with an emphasis on building hit combos for a weapon specific special move whilst dodging and blocking enemy attacks. Here the game tosses in a diverse set of enemy and weapon types as well as companions (all with unique abilities). Although challenging, these scenarios play out much the same and proved to be somewhat a distraction from the card table, which I felt was by far the more interesting part of the game.

Presentation wise, Hand of Fate 2 is top notch, from fantastic voice acting (card dealer especially) to the beautiful Game of Thrones like campaign map to the well-designed character models, it is an impressive showing on the Nintendo Switch, especially in handheld mode. The only complaint I have here is the rather long load times when transitioning from the card table to a combat arena.

Since starting the game for this review, Hand of Fate 2 has become one of my personal top 5 games to play on the Nintendo Switch. Once the somewhat steep initial learning curve is overcome, it becomes simple to pick up and play but very difficult to put down. Highly recommend that you all add this title to your Switch games library.

image source: Defiant Development

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

House
House plays pretty much anything and everything but has almost time for nothing. A devout beat’em up fan, House enjoys a round of captain commando every now and then and can never forget spending hours in dark arcades playing warriors of fate after school. Oh yeah, his favourite console of all time is the original Famicom!

 

 

 

Review – Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles opens up like a mix of Sea of Thieves and Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild; both excelled in creating a beautiful world with a sense of wonder and adventure, which is also Yonder’s greatest strength.

After creating a character with some very basic options (although you can customise him or her throughout the game with a wealth of cosmetic options such as clothes, hair dyes and other accessories to keep things interesting) you are thrown onto the island of Gemea where the game is set and free to explore the open world at your leisure. The game world is beautifully realised; whist it doesn’t surpass Breath of the Wild (but to be fair not many have), it does an admirable job in creating a large, interesting and vibrant world with lush forests, sunny beaches and snowy mountains. Graphically, it is one of the best on the Switch.

How it looks is where the similarities end between Yonder and the aforementioned games. With no enemies to kill or levels to grind, Yonder presents itself as a slow-paced exploration game filled with rather mundane tasks. The game’s myriad of largely lifeless NPCs dish out most of the side quests, usually involving collecting various resources around the world such as fodder, wood, stones, seeds etc using a set of contextual tools introduced early on in the game. For example, using sickles to cut grass, axe to chop trees, pickaxe to mine ore and so on. There is also the ability to run your own farm by building simple structures and rearing the exotic animals found in the game to store and generate resources.

The main story quest is painstakingly simple and the only real sense of progression comes from unlocking previously inaccessible areas of the map by dispersing the ‘murk’ (a mysterious dark shroud covering certain areas) by finding enough pet fairy ‘sprites’. There is no real sense of urgency to this though, as the Murk is not at all dangerous and there is no time limit or any order in which part of the map needs to be uncovered first.

I must confess that I usually like my games with a mature and engaging storyline, deep combat mechanics and RPG-like progression systems. However, I recently played through Yonder during a month long overseas holiday and found it to be the perfect companion game for such an occasion. It is something I could pick up and enjoy for a few minutes to half an hour at a time without the stress of levelling up or acquiring better gear to take on bigger bosses. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is all about discovering its world at your own pace and having the most relaxed time doing so, and like what my 3-year-old daughter said when she watched me play, “it’s beautiful”.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

House
House plays pretty much anything and everything but has almost time for nothing. A devout beat’em up fan, House enjoys a round of captain commando every now and then and can never forget spending hours in dark arcades playing warriors of fate after school. Oh yeah, his favourite console of all time is the original Famicom!

 

 

 

Crawl Review – Nintendo Switch

Crawl is an innovative and refreshing take on an indie dungeon crawler; your friends are your enemies. Up to a group of 4 players can play together locally (AI replaces the other 3 in single player) and as the human player moves through each room and each level (reminiscent of Diablo), every object/trap/monster summoning circle can be manipulated by your 3 ghostly friends to bring about your demise so they can take your place as the human. The aim being to become the first player to get to level 10 as human so they can tackle the final boss (which is also controlled by the other 3 players).

Mutually inclusive levelling mechanics along with upgradeable monsters and purchasable weapons/items (there is a safe-room like shop on every level to provide some much required reprieve) adds depth to the game so that it’s not simply about who can be human for as long as possible; it is imperative to be powerful both as ghost and human to give you the best shot at making it to the final boss first. There is a deeper level of strategy involved here that I feel would be advantageous to the players who can best exploit them.

From the moment you boot up the game, where it asks you to ‘insert coin’ rather than the ubiquitous ‘press any key’, to the hectic race to level 10 to the exhilarating final boss battle, Crawl is wonderfully retro and a joy to behold. The pixelated graphics brings back memories of classic beat’em ups whilst the cheesy announcer and pumping music reminds of the best of the 90s era arcade games. It is also punishingly difficult; you are supposed to die…a lot, as foreshadowed by the introduction, where you are pitted against powerful monsters with impossible odds of survival.

A typical session may only last 15 to 30 minutes, however with randomly generated dungeons and the frantic moment to moment gameplay, each round is refreshing and getting to the end is often greeted with a sense of achievement and relief at the same time; I beat the boss with what must have been the last sliver of health left on my first try.

I played the review copy of Crawl on the Nintendo Switch (scheduled for released tomorrow – 19th of December), and the game is perfectly suited to the system with the joy cons enabling easy local multiplayer and further solidifies Nintendo’s focus on quality indie games with the Switch system.

Crawl is not a game for everyone, however if you have a few mates around and enjoy a fun retro inspired local multiplayer game (at time of writing there wasn’t any online multiplayer features), then Crawl is an easy recommendation.

Release Date: December 19, 2017
Price: $19.99 AUD, $14.99 USD,  €14,99 EU, £12.99 GBP

*Crawl was supplied for review by Powerhoof

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

House
House plays pretty much anything and everything but has almost time for nothing. A devout beat’em up fan, House enjoys a round of captain commando every now and then and can never forget spending hours in dark arcades playing warriors of fate after school. Oh yeah, his favourite console of all time is the original Famicom!